Cynthia Perlis and volunteer artists from the UCSF Comprehensive Cancer Center's Art for Recovery program are doing their part to contribute to the ambience at Mount Zion.
Recently, Perlis, director of Art for Recovery, and two of her volunteers, both patients, worked for two weeks in a little-used room on the basement level of the hospital behind the cafeteria grill to paint a continuous mural on large tiles that would be affixed to ceilings. A nationally acclaimed program, Art for Recovery helps patients cope with their illness by allowing them to express their creative spirit through drawing, painting, collage-making and other artistic endeavors.
The creation of the new murals accommodates a request from Jeffrey Pearl, MD, associate dean of Mount Zion, who wanted to enliven two plain and colorless patient ultrasound rooms located on the first-floor radiology department.
"Imagine lying on a hospital bed undergoing ultrasound treatment," said Pearl, who funded the project. "It can be a very mind-numbing experience. Touches like these throughout the hospital provide a little respite, a calming effect during a stressful time."
Two murals were designed by Perlis and former Bay Area resident Birch Thomas. Longtime Art for Recovery volunteers Sherry Corron, a breast cancer survivor and artist, and Lorna Camodonico, a decorative artist and patient, were recruited to lend their talents to the painting. One mural depicts delicate vines interwoven together with flourishes of soft pinks and shades of white clouds on a light sky-blue background.
Cynthia Perlis, director of Art for Recovery, paints a mural for a ceiling at Mount Zion.
The other mural contrasts greatly with the feeling of observing nature. In the second mural, bright oranges and yellows are combined with long, green leaves flowing in one direction that give a sense of motion to the art.
"I intended to have two really different moods," said Perlis. "As with most of the art we produce for walls and hallways, we tend to feature movement and life, and in this case, something more organic in nature."
While the Art for Recovery team worked to produce the artwork, the project could not be completed without the efforts of the Mount Zion engineering staff.
"My hat is off to the Yiorgos Andritsakis and the whole engineering team, who worked with us throughout this whole process, setting up the tiles and placing them back in the ceiling, checking in on us constantly to see if we needed anything," Perlis said. "They did a tremendous job."
The murals are part of Pearl's overall vision to make Mount Zion an enjoyable destination in San Francisco.
"A hospital does not have to be an unpleasant environment," said Pearl. "We know how to treat patients medically, but there's an inner spirit that we want to tap into - that of comfort and a feeling of peace."
Since 2002, Perlis and Art for Recovery artists have designed and painted eight murals throughout Mount Zion. In addition to the newest ceiling murals, there are four murals on the ceilings of the ultrasound suites in the Center of Excellence in Women's Health, and two wall murals located at the hospital's Sutter Street entrance and on the fifth floor inpatient unit at Mount Zion.
Art for Recovery